UPDATED: First Capital Connect warn of continued disruption on Thameslink line due to flooding - limited service to St Albans
PUBLISHED: 06:56 17 February 2014 | UPDATED: 14:00 17 February 2014
First Capital Connect services remain drastically restricted on the Thameslink line due to flooding to the south of the route.
Flooding has affected the area around the Patcham Tunnel in the South Downs between Preston Park and Hassocks in East Sussex, with this stretch of the line completely closed. There has also been damage to nearby signalling equipment.
First Capital Connect has major drivers’ depots at Brighton and Bedford and a smaller one at Blackfriars. As a result of the current infrastructure problems, the majority of Brighton-based drivers who would normally drive trains to and from St Albans / Luton / Bedford are unavailable.
As a result the following services will be operated by First Capital Connect:
Two trains per hour northbound from Hassocks to Bedford; two trains per hour from Bedford to Hassocks; two trains per hour from Bedford to Blackfriars and vice versa calling at all station; two trains per hour from Blackfriars towards Sutton via Mitcham Junction and Sutton towards Blackfriars via Wimbledon.
Passengers are advised that Thameslink services will be very busy and that they should seek alternative routes where possible. St Albans station has to be temporarily closed this morning due to severe overcrowding on platforms into London.
Tickets are being accepted on FCC’s Great Northern route services, on London Underground services and on services run by other train operators on all reasonable routes.
An FCC spokesperson said: “ We are working closely with Network Rail, whose engineers are on site and are doing everything possible to resolve the current infrastructure problems as swiftly as possible.
Car park season tickets covering FCC stations on the Thameslink route are valid at FCC-operated car parks on the Great Northern route.
The chaos coincides with the release of a Which? survey of rail passenger satisfaction which shows First Capital Connect is the bottom rail company in terms of customer satisfaction.
Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Sandy Walkington reacted to today’s problems: “Of course we understand that flooding has affected the southernmost part of the Thameslink route.
“But the question all weary St Albans commuters will ask when they went to a station which had to be shut because of the congestion and no emergency buses till 9.15 is whether this could have been anticipated and whether Brighton-based rolling stock should have been moved north by First Capital Connect to maintain the bulk of the service, with Brighton-based drivers if necessary being taxied or bussed to their trains.
“Why does there always seem a lack of initiative and anticipation from First Capital Connect? It looks like going the extra mile over the weekend could have paid huge dividends and not let down so many Herts and Beds commuters,” Sandy added.